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There’s Nothing More Important Than Your Health

I don’t do well with pain. I learned that lesson all too well during the birth of my first son when, after 10 hours of labor jump-started by a pitocin drip, I finally got an epidural. Nothing — and I mean nothing — has ever felt as good as the ebbing of that pain. I relearned the lesson during the birth of the second son, this time determined to go natural all the way when, after a few hours, I told the doula to “shut up” and ordered my husband to hunt down the anesthesiologist and “Get me an epidural — NOW!” He listens well.

By the time the third son was born, I had the drill down pat. I was admitted to the hospital to be induced again but this time, as soon as the IV was hooked up and before the first labor pain hit, I had the anesthesiologist in the room putting in the epidural. It was a completely painless birth — and a lot of fun.

My issues with pain extend to my issues with being sick. I simply do not like not feeling ill. I’ve been very lucky and extremely blessed in my life — the most serious thing I’ve ever had wrong with me was strep throat or a stubborn sinus infection. As a medical writer, I’m far too familiar with all the things that could go wrong with me, so I feel guilty even complaining about my minor issues.

But hey, this is my blog, so I can whine if I want to. This week I’ve been suffering with an ear infection. Otitis externa to be exact, also known as “swimmer’s ear.” And no, I haven’t been swimming.

All I can say is that I now really understand why my babies screamed when they had ear infections. If I were 8 months old I’d be screaming, too! As I described to my husband the other night when I was holding very still and practicing my Lamaze breathing to “rise above” the pain in my left ear: “I feel like I’m trying to push a Volkswagon out of my ear.” 

The pain is finally fading, thanks to the antibiotic drops (and held in check by way too much ibuprofen and acetaminophen), but the experience has frightened me. I’m now 47 — at an age when more things are going to go wrong in my heretofore relatively reliable body. As it is, my right arm/elbow has begun hurting a lot lately, a writer’s version of “tennis elbow” that, I’m told, is called “mouse elbow.” My left knee often twinges frighteningly when I’m working out. And if I haven’t exercised in a day or two, my husband tells me that my body is “crooked.”

I do not have time or energy in my life for illness. So I’m going to continue doing whatever I can to avoid it — exercising even though I hate it; eating right (which is fairly easy for me); and drinking a lot of wine (even easier).

All of which is a roundabout way of saying to you what I’ve often said to my family and friends: There really is nothing more important in your life than your health.

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*

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